2018 MBAs To Watch: David Hanger, Indiana University (Kelley)

David Hanger

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

Seek first to understand, before being understood. Live with passion, purpose, and persistence.”

Age:  29

Hometown:  Carmel, IN

Fun fact about yourself: I once walked a marathon with my fiancé across downtown Chicago on a whim, not as an organized event but just because it was a nice day and we love that city. That day, I gained an appreciation for actual marathon runners and what a difference a nice pair of shoes can make.

Undergraduate School and Degree:  DePauw University – BA Biology / Spanish

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

  • Interior Investments, Chicago, IL – Account Manager (Sales)
  • Sigma Chi International Headquarters, Evanston, IL – Director of Leadership Programs

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? FedEx Services, FedEx World Headquarters, Memphis, TN

Where will you be working after graduation? Infosys, Chicago, IL – Senior Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Global Business and Social Enterprise in China – Student Leader and part of the Founding Team for the trip
  • Co-Founder of Adam Smith Society at Indiana – VP of External Affairs
  • Leadership Coach for 1st Year Students
  • Admissions Graduate Assistant, Admissions Office
  • Supply Chain Academy Project (Eaton Aerospace)
  • David Hoover Fellowship Award
  • Kelley Merit Fellowship Award

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  Having the opportunity to be part of the first team to lead a group of students to consult with businesses in China. It was a blue ocean. We built relationships with several partners in Dali, Yunnan Province, who would become our clients during a seven-week class and week-long, in-country engagement. Dali is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The scenery, the students, our clients, and our team made this an unforgettable experience. Our mission was to build bridges with China and to make the “I” in IU stand for International. I believe we accomplished both.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While it is still ongoing, I am most proud of starting my own company. Elon Musk said, “Starting a company is like eating glass and starring into the abyss.” Our vision is to change the world’s access to fast, healthy food. Getting a formal business education and leveraging the network at Kelley was essential for my ability to understand and create a brand, strategy, and financial models to deal with the uncertainty and ambiguity of launching a business. Thank you Kelley, mom and dad, Christine, and Elon.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Joe Fitter (Director of Kelley’s Strategic Finance Academy). Joe is one of those people that you can’t help but smile when you see him. He has tremendous energy, talent, and optimism – and cares deeply about students. The world needs more Joe’s.

What was your favorite MBA Course? “Developing Strategic Capabilities.” Before this class, I didn’t know how to put all the tools and theories together from the CORE. The professor, John Wisneski, was world class. The frameworks and case discussions were truly perspective-changing and helped me both in my internship and in every project after that class.

Why did you choose this business school? One of the admissions counselors at the time, Brad Rosenwinkel, made an impact on me when I met him in Chicago. He was smart, personal, ambitious, and genuine. I found that every person I met at Kelley during my visit was the same as Brad. Coming to Kelley was one of the best decisions of my life.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Put together your best application, but don’t lose yourself in the process. A decision to improve yourself is always a good investment, and there are many ways to make yourself better both in school and outside of business school. Kelley prides itself on enabling you to have a strong connection to your classmates, your professors, and your community. If that does not excite you, that is okay. If it does, then welcome. But, most importantly, stay true to yourself, to your heart, and to your values. The rest will take care of itself.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Honestly, I had to Google search this because I didn’t have one. I still do not. For any prospective students reading this, reach out to me with your myths, and I can bust them.

What was your biggest regret in business school?  I have no regrets. You can either be bitter or you can get and live better.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Aside from all my classmates who have families on campus (you inspire me), the classmate I most admire is Matt Miller. It was a classic, destined-to-be-friends story. We met in our first class of the year and developed a friendship within two minutes because of the endless life overlaps that we shared. But, what made me look up to Matt (besides the fact that he is 6’6” and was a professional athlete) throughout our two years at Kelley was his intense focus and commitment to doing his best in anything. This pushed me to learn and grow at a much faster pace and deeper level than I thought possible at business school.

There were topics and experiences that he had and taught me that I did not get in the classroom. I look forward to watching him grow and develop as a business leader. Through all the times we worked together, I never saw him settle, take a short cut, or compromise his values for his work. And, I know that he will not settle over his career. It has been a pleasure to have him as a peer, an inspiration, and a friend. Thank you, Matt.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Two people: my father and my grandfather. Growing up, my Dad mentioned that he wished he would have pursued his MBA during his career. In a way, I wanted to complete the education for myself, but I also wanted to achieve this for him. He and my Mom are my foundation for my values and perspectives on the world. My Dad traveled a lot internationally for his job when I was younger, which exposed me to various cultures and people. Now, I use those learnings every day in business school.

Similarly, my grandfather was someone who loved science and exploration and was very successful in his business career. He grew up on a farm and had a farmer’s grit for his entire life. Any time we visited him, he was hard at work and never sat idle. His mind was always in motion. He pursued his master’s at Kansas State, and I figured if he did it, I probably should too. From him, I gained an appreciation for keeping the big picture in mind while caring for the small details. We only get one chance at life, so we better make the most of it.

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…on my way to NASA or SpaceX to learn how to fly a rocket, or at least help build one.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience?  This is difficult. I have great admiration for Dean Kesner and all the staff and faculty because it is hard work to run a business school, especially a great one. But, if I were dean for a day, I would look for opportunities to collaborate across business schools outside of the typical case competitions. There seem to be pockets of schools across the country that could get together 1-2 weekends per semester to either build relationships or try to solve a big social, cultural, or economic issue in their region. Football, basketball, and other sports teams take buses to other universities, so I do not see why business schools could not do the same. This would be a win for the students, the staff and faculty, the schools involved, and the community at large. It would also promote a broader sense of citizenship and leadership that is desperately needed in the world of today and tomorrow.      

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Go to space
  • Leave the world better off than I found it

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I was not the most social in my class, but I would like to think that people saw me as someone who lived with passion and principles, never gave up, cared about others, challenged the status quo, and always approached challenges with optimism.

What is your favorite movie about business? Glengarry Glen Ross. Coming from sales, this movie provides the quintessential training for any aspiring salesperson. ABC – Always Be Closing. To me, it has meant that life presents you with many opportunities, so long as you are open-minded and prepared. All the world is a stage and your moment is always NOW.

What would your theme song be?  “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles

Favorite vacation spot:  Santorini, Greece

Hobbies?  Competitive sailing and racquetball, traveling, cooking, volunteering, reading, juggling, and learning Mandarin Chinese

What made David such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“David brought enthusiasm and professionalism to everything he has done at Kelley. During his first year, he was an active participant in KIPS (Kelley International Perspectives) China and felt so strongly about the positive impact of the trip that he lobbied to make it into a GLOBASE trip during second year. He was successful with this and has been one of the student leaders for our first GLOBASE trip to China, leading a team of 25 students on a consulting engagement with small businesses for a week and then planning a second week of tourism throughout the country. David has also been actively involved in our admissions recruiting, working with prospective students as they begin their journey looking at programs.  David’s energy is contagious and he has built up a lot of respect among his classmates as someone to turn to when they need assistance with something.”

Rebecca Cook

Executive Director, MBA Program